Does This Mean Pre-Adolescents Are Melodramatic?

Posted on 17/01/2013 by


There’s a… well, I’m going with thing rather than ‘problem’ that arises in my plan rewrite Path.

As it stands the first book moves very slowly, which is a product of the fact that when I was writing it I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know my story, I hadn’t had any real experience in writing novels, and I was only aware in the loosest sense what genre I was in. My first urge when it comes to dealing with this is, and always has been, to simply lop off the front half of the book and pretend it never existed. (And then, you know, cram the end back together with the second book.)

The issue with this plan is that amidst the slow-moving action of the story, there are a series of scenes which I love to tiny little pieces.

At this point someone is bound to quote the old kill-your-darlings adage. And yes. I agree. I get it. Painful, but sometimes sacrifices have to made. The trouble is that it’s not just me who loves those scenes. They are disproportionately favoured by my beta readers as well.

Which worries me a little. And is the biggest reason I keep going round and round on this. Obviously the project would be easier if I could figure out something else to do with those scenes…

And then at five am on Thursday I had an epiphany.

See, the thing that really threw me when Jen first mentioned it, and, in fact, every time I’ve thought about it is: I don’t write middle grade. It’s not like that’s a choice I’ve made, I just never have. So a) I don’t know how I managed to write something that can be seen that way, and b) I don’t think I’d be competent to try doing it on purpose.

So over the last three months while I climbed things in Mexico and fell off things in Peru and came home and focused on writing Wizards, in the back of my head I was trying to fit the idea that I’d written something that might be considered middle grade into my head with my plans for Path.

I’d think to myself, Well, there’s that flashback bit where the main characters are ten… And then I’d remind myself about the blood and the death and the betrayal and how the protagonists being ten years old does not make a story middle grade.

And then at one dark day in the middle of the night my brain woke up and said to me: not middle grade, melodrama. Because I do write that. When I’m not paying attention, or when I am backed into a corner by a person or a deadline my sarcastic frustration comes out as melodrama. Always has.

And the TV series I wrote as an undergrad which was the birthplace of Path was something that I never intended to write but my lecturer sort of gleefully bullied me into it and… yeah. It was an out and out unabashed melodrama.

And all those scenes in the first half of Path that people love but that just don’t quite match the tone of the rest of the book even though I have rewritten them all a dozen times trying to drag them into line — those scenes? They’re all ones that I lifted out of the TV series.

So… my version of melodrama is middle grade?*

And I am now violently tempted to write a different book from these pieces. A funny, middle grade thing, closer to its original melodramatic roots. And that can be one thing and Path can be this other thing over here.


* Does this mean pre-adolescents are melodramatic? And incidentally who ever thought I’d be writing middle grade fiction? Then again, I’m seven mentally, according to all and sundry. That’s not even really middle grade. That’s chapter books.